Maybe you recall as soon as in Les Misérables when Fantine chops off all her hair? The destitute young mother sells her long locks, then her teeth (a detail often excluded from child-friendly adaptations) before she is eventually forced into prostitution. It might be nice to think that her experience was no more an actuality, that the business of human hair had gone how of your guillotine – however, it’s booming. The present day market for extensions made of real human hair is increasing in an incredible rate. In 2013, £42.8 million worth of human hair was imported to the UK, padded by helping cover their a little bit of animal hair. That’s a thousand metric tons and, end to end, almost 80 million miles of hair, or maybe you favor, two million heads of 50cm long hair. And our hair industry pales in comparison to that of america.
Two questions spring in your thoughts: first, that is supplying this all hair and, secondly, who in the world is buying it? Unsurprisingly, each side of the market are cagey. Nobody desires to admit precisely where these are importing hair from and women with extensions love to pretend their brazilian hair could be the own. Websites selling human hair will occasionally explain the locks result from religious tonsure ceremonies in India, where women willingly swap hair in exchange for a blessing. At Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in southern India, tonsuring is customary and it’s probably the most-visited holy sites on earth, so there’s plenty of hair to flog.
It has been described as ‘happy hair’ – and it’s certainly a sufficient story to share with your client as you may glue another woman’s dead hair to her scalp. But countries like Russia, China, Ukraine, Peru and Brazil also export considerable amounts of hair, so where’s that from? The veracity behind this hair is probably a grim one. You will find reports of female prisoners and females in labour camps being forced to shave their heads so individuals in charge can market it off. Whether or not the women aren’t coerced, no one can make sure that the hair’s original owner received a fair – or any – price.
It’s a strange anomaly within a world through which we’re all obsessed with fair trade and ethical sourcing: nobody seems by any means bothered in regards to the origins with their extra hair. But then, the current market is hard to regulate along with the supply chain is convoluted. Bundles of hair can go through many different countries, rendering it tough to keep tabs on. Then the branding is available in: Chinese hair is marketed as Brazilian, Indian as European. The truth that some websites won’t disclose where their hair emanates from is significant. Hair is sourced ‘all over eastern Europe’, says Kelly Reynolds, from Lush Hair Extensions, but ‘we would not know specifically’. A couple of ‘ethical’ extension companies exist, but typically, the client just doesn’t would like to know where hair is harvested. From the FAQ parts of human hair websites, most queries are things such as ‘How do I maintain it’ or ‘How long could it last?’ instead of ‘Whose hair will it be anyway?’ One profoundly sinister website selling ‘virgin Russian hair’ boasts the hair ‘has been grown inside the cold Siberian regions and it has never been chemically treated’. Another site details how to distinguish human and artificial hair: ‘Human hair will turn to ash. It can smell foul. When burning, a persons hair will demonstrate white smoke. Synthetic hair is a sticky ball after burning.’ Along with not melting, human hair styles better. Accept no imitations, ladies.
The costliest option is blonde European hair, a packet in which can fetch greater than £1,000. So who buys this? Well, Beyoncé for just one. Her hair collection was once estimated to be worth $1 million. And the Kardashians have recently launched an array of extensions underneath the name ‘Hair Kouture’, designed to provide you with that ‘long hair don’t care attitude’.
Near where I live in London, there are a variety of shops selling a myriad of wigs, weaves and extensions. The signs outside advertise ‘virgin hair’ (which can be hair that hasn’t been treated, instead of hair from virgins). Nearby, a nearby hairdresser does a roaring trade in stitching bundles of hair into the heads of girls seeking to 33dexjpky like cast members from The Only Method Is Essex. My very own hairdresser tells me she has middle-aged, middle-class women seeking extensions to ensure they look ‘more like Kate Middleton’. She even suspects Kate could have used extensions, which is a tabloid story waiting to occur: ‘Kate wears my hair!’
Human hair can be a precious commodity mainly because it will take time to increase and artificial substitutes are considered inferior. There are actually women prepared to buy there are women happy to sell, but given how big the current market it’s about time we found out where it’s all from and who benefits. Fantine seemed to be fictional, but her reality still exists, now over a billion-dollar global scale.